I am a cessationist insofar as all the gifts of the spirit are NOT (edit) in full operation today as they were in the early Church, but I am a continuationist in regard to “new” areas where the Gospel is being preached. I think that Holy Spirit purposefully functions in this capacity where the Gospel message is making inroads. I’m not putting this up here to justify some sort of circular reasoning but rather to qualify what I’m about to say as an argument I think continuationists should use if they’re going to want to push forward the idea that prophecy occurs today. So perhaps this opening should be read more as a warning: I don’t believe what I’m about to say, but I think it could be defended.
If you think about it, religion is just what the human soul acts like when God is around. And just like gravity is everywhere, people can’t really escape from religion. Of course, people react differently according to how they act to whatever situation…but they still react.
Thing is, people’s reaction to God can only go down three different religious ways: head, heart or will. It’s like the basis of every religion and people wind up dabbling in any of these, or a mixing of them.
That’s just religion but then we get to the source of religion. You either have religion that comes from God or religion that comes from people. So God’s religion would be religion that he tells you about, and takes in all three spheres, or it would be religion he doesn’t tell you about—and people make up—and dabbles in all three spheres.
In the last post, I laid down some thinking that if the Holy Spirit works in a special way that He will make sure that the message is authenticated. I did that to start answering the contention that Christians are to make decisions based on an interior still voice (that sounds different from themselves but which they can start understanding as the voice of God as they become more spiritual), or that Christians must rely on an internal nudging to do X over Y, or that they can be miraculously led by the Spirit to justify some preaching over another preaching, etc, etc.
“Of course,” says the believer with rightful bluster, “The Holy Spirit is the third divine person of the Godhead and therefore not some mindless force.”
But then, even though we seem to agree, their actions (and speech) hint at something else.
I keep hearing Christians say they’re being led by the spirit to: move to a new city; change jobs; seek a spouse; preach something other than they prepared; justify whatever sermon they do preach; or introduce some future course of action. I hear Christians even justify their actions or decisions based on the favorable results. So if Joe is “moved by the Spirit” to move to Arkansas where he is blessed with a great job and a preaching ministry, his moving by the Spirit is confirmed—God wanted him in Arkansas.
When asked “how do you know it’s the Holy Spirit?” the response I’ve gotten (in the past) is essentially “I just know” Or “It sounds…different” or “but look what wound up happening!” Sometimes I’ve even heard that the closer we come to God the more we’ll know it’s Him speaking because we’re just that close; like friends know what each other are thinking.